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Interview Fri Oct 23 2015

The Lawrence Arms Bringing the Holiday Cheer

The dead of winter has become a mortal enemy to residents of Chicago. I can attest as a lifelong Illinois resident: these winters can be unbearable. Attitudes may be down, but there are events around the city that can perk up even the gloomiest of people. One of those said activities to help people blossom out of their winter cocoons is The Lawrence Arms' 1st Annual War on Christmas shows at the Double Door. This isn't any old one-off show by the Chicago punk stalwarts. The boys from the Windy City will be performing three nights, December 10-12, and each night's set will revolve around a certain theme, with the opening bands reflecting it, as well. The Lawrence Arms' bassist, Brendan Kelly, was kind enough to sit down and chat with me about this idea and what patrons can expect.

war on christmasSo how did this idea come about?

Toby [Jeg, the Lawrence Arm's tour manager and Brendan's compatriot at Red Scare Industries] said Mike [Petryshyn] from Riot Fest wants to have a meeting with you. I thought, alright, that sounds a little weird. So Mike said to me, "I'd like you guys to have a residency at the Double Door around the holidays" and I was like yeah that'd be cool, but I don't want to do an album thing. [Brendan was referring to shows where bands only play one or two albums in their entirety, and nothing else as showcases.]

No disrespect to anyone that's done it in the past, but to me it's just not interesting. But I thought, what if we did something where we play a theme each night and the songs were based on that theme we did and the opening bands were like that too.

So everyone started getting really exciting as was like 'wow i don't think that's ever been done before' and it kinda spiraled from there. We're fortunate or unfortunate enough to be the kind of band that has a big catalog and only write about three things so it worked out perfectly for us haha.

What are the themes for each show?

The first one is Sadness and Despair. The second is Drinking and Revelry, and the third night Love and Triumph.

So for each night are you going to play song off of your records that are based around those themes?

Right, the entire night will be themed. The first is sadness and despair and Off With Their Heads is the main opener. The second night where it's all about booze, we've got Red City Radio, so that will be a party night and for the final night we have our old buddies in The Methadones. So our goal is for it all to be thematic, and the merchandise will be thematic and our songs will have to fit into those categories.

What do you mean by themed merchandise? Are you going to do themed shirts for each night?

Well, here's the thing, we may sell shirts designed for each night, and every night, but I think this is going to be a pretty special thing and if this series goes well, we will hopefully do it next year. It would be awesome to make this into a tradition every year.

Is there a reason why the shows are at the Double Door? Do you want something more intimate because of the themes of the shows?

It was Mike's notion to do a Lawrence Arms residency and we can sell out the Metro, but I don't know if we can sell the Metro out for three nights in a row. We looked at the realism surrounding the popularity of our band and if we're gonna do three nights, it's gotta be a more intimate venue. It's not a small venue, but I do like the idea of making it an event and the notion of bringing people to town for the weekend, that's always the best.

When we did our 10th year anniversary show here at the Metro, there were people from Japan, Australia, all over Europe, South America and I thought 'wow I want every show we do to be like this.' These three shows are not going to be that necessarily, but who wants to travel from South America to Chicago in December? No body.

I've lived in Chicago my whole life and even I don't want be here in the winter.

Yeah, exactly. [laughs] But as we get older and slow down in terms of our output, you kinda have to plan like this.

You have any idea how the sets are going to look?

I feel like there are going to be a couple songs that could go a couple nights and I don't think that's a big deal.

Really? Which ones?

"100 Resolutions" could definitely go on the drinking night and the solitude and despair night. And there's a lot of songs that could potentially go different nights. I want to try to keep the sets as uncontaminated as possible, but there's bound to be a little crossover. It'll be fine but it's a daunting task to think about putting together that big of a program.

Yeah, I can't imagine.

It's a different vibe than a lot of Lawrence Arms shows. A lot of shows we'll just go "fuck it, let's have a good time!" And that's the whole thing about our band, any attention or love we've ever gotten has just been cool gravy to us, because it's an excuse for us to get together and play our songs. I know a lot of people say that thing, but we really started this band with no ambitions and we have maintained that attitude pretty steadfast throughout our career. But we're gonna be pretty ready for these shows, which is a nice change of pace.


Tickets for the show are still on sale for each set at the Double Door. Each show begins at 7:30pm with tickets set at the price of $26.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


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